With the start of school there is always jitters and changes for students and for parents. This year that has been compounded by the biggest pandemic in several generations: COVID-19. In
fact, as of the time writing this, there dates and processes in schools are still changing and
evolving it even more complicated for parents.
Por Matías De Dovitiis (*) – Publicado gracias a la amabilidad de The Downsview Advocate
As Ontario regresses in its collective action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the new daily
numbers rise over 300 and 400 from a low of 100 per day, Ford’s government has reduced the
number of people that can congregate indoors to 10. Stricter changes may be on their way
back. This begs the question why class sizes of 25 or more students or why over 50 students in a
school bus is considered safe. Parents are very worried about their choices.
Not all parents work from home. Not all families can self isolate at home. Canada has no paid
sick days for temporary and contract workers and tenant evictions have re-started. This
combination creates significant pressures on parents and guardians. In areas with higher social
needs the infection rates have been higher. Issues highlight by structural poverty are made
worse by COVID-19. Areas with higher rates of job security, poverty, racialized people and
access to services are much more likely to be at risk of contagion. But lets understand the
problem: by not protecting those at risk, we are putting everybody at risk. This is bad policy
making. We needed to have hired more teachers for a semester or two to create smaller class
sizes, but the government failed to do that.
Agnes lives in the area but is very worried about her decision. She has two boys, one in grade 7
and one in grade 11 and decided to send both to school. «It’s tough. They are taking transit. We
are not reducing class size. We are living in a panic attack, but you don’t want your kids to stay
on a device all day. The long-term effects of them being in front of a screen 24/7 are very
concerning for me. It has been too long. I feel that they need to be supervised and that they are
not learning if they stay home.»
The Ford government had done a fair job with the pandemic until school started. However, they
have shown no flexibility and no foresight regarding the re-opening of schools. That was their
job. Keeping their kids at home in isolation is unhealthy and not always possible. Sending them
to school may put them at risk or risk people at home that may be vulnerable. This fall semester
is going to be tough for parents and due to a lack of preparation by the government now all we
can do is hope for the best.
See how your local school is doing:
Matias De Dovitiis es politólogo y activista en la comunidad latinoamericana en Toronto.
Fundador de OLAS (Organization of Latin American Students) en la Universidad de Toronto, tambien creo la organizacion CONOSER, que genera programas para mejorar las oportunidades academicas de los latinoamericanos en Canada.